We are only a few days out from UFC 159 on April 27, 2013 and so far I am not exactly feeling the hype. The entire point of having Chael Sonnen fight Jon Jones was that he could ‘sell’ the fight. We are less than a week away and Sonnen hasn’t sold it all that much. I haven’t seen the same kind of mainstream traction that we saw prior to the first and second Anderson Silva fights.
It was thought that putting Sonnen and Jones, who is known to be prickly and smug, in a season of The Ultimate Fighter would lead to verbal fireworks. Instead, we saw Sonnen and Jones develop mutual respect for one another, which is interesting, but certainly not compelling in terms of selling more pay-per-view buys. In fact today, Sherdog reported that Chael Sonnen went out of his way to praise Jones at today’s press conference:
The reality is Jon Jones could up beat Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali in the same day,” said Sonnen. “When he says he wants to be the best ever — news flash buddy, you are the best.
As a result, the entire reason why Sonnen was booked for the fight has essentially been forgotten. He was booked to get angry at Jones, to call him names, and to get fans riled up. Instead, he is praising Jones, calling him the best ever. When you pair that with an underwhelming undercard, UFC 159 is just not living up to the hype that was promised when Sonnen was booked to fight Jones.
Sonnen’s shtick has also worn thin to many UFC fans. When Sonnen was preparing to take on Silva the first time, his persona was novel. We hadn’t seen a guy like that in MMA. Then, when he almost beat Silva, interest in Sonnen skyrocketed. We all ate up his hype prior to the second matchup with Silva because fans genuinely believed that Sonnen could beat Silva, if given another chance. The problem now is that Sonnen is praising Jones instead of tearing him down; and, no one thinks he can beat him anyway. As a result, I think that the main selling point of the fight is Jones’ skills, not Sonnen’s trash-talking.
Photo Credit – Mike Dinovo – USA Today Sports